2013 is shaping up to be a very good year for Hollywood. Early estimates show Monsters University set to take in $82 million at the box office this weekend. That left the film well clear of a surprisingly strong performance from Brad Pitt's World War Z, which collected $66 million. Last week's winner, Man of Steel eased back 65% from its performance last weekend; posting about $41.2 million in box office receipts over the weekend.
Overall, the weekend box office is 43% above the same weekend last year.
Pixar's Winning Streak Survives
Monsters University is Pixar's 14th major film, and maintains the studio's record of all its features hitting number one on their opening weekend. While the film scored a 78% on film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, below Monster's score of 96%, audiences liked the film enough to award it an 'A' CinemaScore. The opening weekend total is also Pixar's second largest total ever, behind Toy Story 3's $110 million.
The excellent early results from Monsters University, both financially and from audience reviews, is a boon for parent company Disney (NYSE:DIS). Pixar will release a new film next year titled The Good Dinosaur and has two films in the pipeline for 2015, including a sequel to Finding Nemo. With Finding Nemo having grossed $339 million domestically back in 2003 and remaining one of the most beloved films in Pixar's library, 2015 could be a studio's most successful year yet.
Zombies remain hot
Paramount, a subsidiary of Viacom (NASDAQ:VIA), was right to expect the worst from World War Z. Despite the presence of a strong leading man in Brad Pitt and the ability to ride a zombie phenomenon that's led to Walking Dead becoming the break-out hit of cable TV, the film has long looked troubled. After executives first screened the movie, they famously deemed the last third of the movie so incoherent (and bleak) that the entire last 40 minutes of the film was reshot. The end result was terrible buzz around the film and a production budget reportedly clocking in around $190 million.
Yet, reviews of the new ending were far more forgiving and a last minute marketing push also helped the film's fortune. The $66 million the film took in this weekend domestically is well above earlier forecasts which had pegged the film in the $40 million range. Add in international markets and the film's box office rises to $112 million. At the end of the day, the film's performance is more a sigh of relief for its financial backers and also evidence the craze around zombies remains very hot.
Superman keeps flying high
Time Warner's (NYSE:TWX.DL) Man of Steel slid 65% back to $41 million this weekend, but still remains a success story for the studio. The key area of focus this weekend was international markets. The film kept expanding, and through just two weekends has $188 million in international markets.
That's a very key storyline to focus on. Consider that Disney's Iron Man 3 has about $400 million domestically, but over $800 million in foreign markets. That leaves its international haul at about 2/3 of its total box office. Time Warner's last breakout hit in the DC comic book universe was its Dark Knight trilogy. In that trilogy The Dark Knight's box office was only 47% international. The final film in the series, The Dark Knight Rises saw its international total expand to 59% of the box office. That's a comparable level of international sales to Disney's The Avengers.
With talks heating up that Time Warner plans on focusing on a Justice League film in 2015 that will use its arsenal of DC comic book characters to compete with The Avengers, Man of Steel's expanding international total and the final film of the Dark Knight trilogy scoring well overseas point toward Justice League film scoring an eye-popping global box office total.
Overall, not a lot of bad news out of Hollywood this weekend.
Eric Bleeker, CFA has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of Walt Disney. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.